Well, once again, summer is upon us and with less than a month to go before the first games of the season, the world of european soccer is starting to heat up.
The transfer window this year is wide open, notably with Neymar and Zlatan still undecided as to where they will play next season and for how much. The ICC has teams traveling the globe on international expos, and preseason predictions are starting to take real shape as the transfer rumors abound. In the Serie A, a less than exciting off season, compounded by the impending doom of another Juventus scudetto victory, has left the majority of competitive teams fighting for a second or third place finish. And all of these teams, Napoli, Roma, Inter, Milan, Atalanta, Lazio and even Fiorentina and Torino have a lot of work left to do before the season starts August 19th. Especially, if they are to have any chance of finishing in Champions League contention.
As for the odds makers, notoriously some of the best predictors of full season results, they are still having their fun with each and every signing as this offseason/transfer window comes to a close.
Current Serie A betting lines have Juventus as clear favorites, most holding them at a 2/3 line. These same lines also currently have Roma in 4th, which is worth noting considering the Romans are coming off one of their highest season point totals in history. The other two teams favored ahead of Roma are last seasons second place challengers Napoli and an AC Milan team that barely qualified for European competition. Napoli’s odds, 6/1, which have substantial merit, could be argued successfully, considering last years results, and the quality of players currently on the roster. They just barely missed the guaranteed Champions league spot to Roma and still have a chance to qualify for the UCL in the coming weeks.
On the other hand, AC Milan being on par or even an odds on favorite in some books ahead of Roma is both shocking, and an indication that the odds makers are disavowing how tumultuous the last few seasons truly were for the Milianisti. In the end though, the facts and the stats are all in Roma’s favor, contrary to what the betting lines say. This is a Milan team that scored 24 points less in the table than Roma last year. They finished 6th in the table last season, barely securing a Europa League spot by holding off cross town rivals Inter by 1 point.
Ok, yes, they have new owners. Yes, they were handcuffed all of last season by a potential sale and lack of funds. Yet, in what world does a team with less than 20 total wins the season prior, miraculously leap to the top of the table the following season?
Sure, it is possible for them to be holding a slight odds advantage, but some of these sites have them at twice the odds of Roma to win the Serie A, a clear knock on the potential of Roma this upcoming season by the oddsmakers.
My colleagues at CurvAmerica broke this down on their most recent podcast. Their take is that Bonucci’s departure from Juventus to Ac Milan could be signaling the end of the dynasty as players begin to jump ship from the best team in the Serie A even with the signings of Cuadrado and Costa. And to make things even more interesting, Inter find themselves with odds that are par with Roma’s to take the 2017/18 Scudetto.
Could this disparity be caused by the lack of waves made at Roma since the close of last season? Even the drama and spectacle that is and will always be Francesco Totti has now moved from the pitch to the directors table. Obviously Roma has a significant amount of work ahead of them to just remain in the 2 spot, let alone, oust the kings(or old queens) of Italian football in this case.
A new coach, a new sporting director, some departures from key players of last season, Scezeny and Salah specifically, all leave the giallorossi with a significant amount of work and soul searching to perhaps come out on top. Tackle all this with a side of “what’s going on with the Stadio Della Roma?”, and Roma could be ripe for a slight topple from the top.
With Palotta continuing to issue promises and start dates for groundbreaking, even as the old ones come and go on a seemingly regular basis nowadays, the questions for AS Roma will continue to mount. However, in the end, I don’t see the potential fall of Roma matching the potential rise of AC Milan. The oddsmakers do though and that is always a little troubling.
Do these bookmakers know something we don’t? Yes, it is Juve’s Scudetto to lose, but the level of dismissiveness adhered to Roma at the moment is most certainly questionable.